published Friday, February 25th, 2011

CSO connects Bachs, Mozarts with 'Family Ties'

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    Bob Bernhardt will conduct the CSO in two concerts.

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's chamber music performance, "Bach to Mozart," is subtitled "Family Ties," but conductor Robert Bernhardt said it could also be called "Fathers and Sons."

The CSO will perform the program twice, first at the Sheraton Read House on Sunday as part of its Chamber Series and again Monday in Cleveland, Tenn., as part of Lee University's Presidential Concert Series.

The performance will feature works by two Bachs and two Mozarts.

"There are two direct relationships and one indirect one," said Bernhardt.

First up will be the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach, followed by Sinfonia in D Major by his youngest son, Johann Christian Bach. The second set will feature Symphony in B Flat by Leopold Mozart and will close with Symphony No. 29 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, son of Leopold.

The first number, by the better-known Bach father, is the best known of the Brandenberg concertos, Bernhardt said. "It is the epitome, the zenith, of the Baroque."

J.C. Bach's Sinfonia differs from the prior work. "The idea ... is to break away from the Baroque idea that every movement has only one emotion," he said. "[J.S. Bach's] sons wanted to break away and make [music] in a way they thought more interesting."

The classical era introduced the sonata allegro form, which allows each movement to have two contrasting themes.

"The sons of Bach considered their father old-fashioned when he died," said Bernhardt.

The direct relationships are clear. The indirect, less so.

According to both Bernhardt and Early Music America, a Seattle-based not-for-profit dedicated to raising awareness about Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and classical music, J.C Bach was a mentor and great friend to the younger Mozart, and was, along with Franz Joseph Hadyn, considered a musical father of sorts to him.

"[J.C. Bach] recognized the genius of the young man," Bernhardt said. "When Johann Christian Bach died, Mozart wrote letters to many people saying, 'It's one of the saddest days in music' "

Bernhardt described W.A. Mozart's Symphony 29 as a "leap."

"Every now and then, he took one of those leaps, artistically, in his writing, and that was No. 29."

The symphony plays tribute to his friend J.C. Bach by echoing the theme of Sinfonia in D Major.

"This time period fits chamber orchestra perfectly," Bernhardt said. "It's very easy, in this case, to trace generations."

Contact Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber.

If you go

* What: "Bach to Mozart: Family Ties."

* When and where: Sunday at Sheraton Read House, 827 Broad St.; 7:30 p.m. Monday in Lee University's Dixon Center, 1053 Church St., N.E., Cleveland, Tenn.

* Admission: $15 Sunday, $10 Monday.

* Phone: CSO box office, 267-8583; Dixon Center box office, 423-614-8343.

* Website: www.chattanooga symphony.org.

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